I'm interning with the City of Bellevue WA's transportation department over the next year. I'm helping my team build a case for how/why to lower speed limits on residential non-arterial streets from 25mph to 20mph. The city has already enacted a pilot project in one neighborhood in the city. The question is whether to move forward with a citywide change of baseline speed limits or continue to go neighborhood by neighborhood. One the one hand strong town thinking would usually advocate for the street by street approach. On the other hand lowering speeds is broadly (if vaguely) popular in the city neighborhoods and I can see how having some streets at 20 and others at 25 while undergoing an incremental change could be confusing to communicate and educate and not very cost effective (thinking of all the additional signage needed to communicate transitions from 25 to 20 zones, and then changing them again later).
Our team has spoken with a few bigger cities who have done this already (Seattle, Portland, Cambridge MA) but would be interested in folks general opinions, especially for more post-war suburban contexts (Bellevue is itself an odd layout, a historical suburban bedroom community adjacent to Seattle but with an increasingly dense downtown of giant towers catering to tens of thousands of incoming tech jobs but a classic 1950's suburban single family build across the street in many cases).
Open to any advice, previous experiences, public outreach knowledge, how to convince engineers to be ok moving away from 85th percentile etc.
*Our team is aware physical interventions on the street are superior to regulatory change. We acknowledge a speed limit change is more of a communication/cultural change that hopefully works in tandem with other interventions (albeit slowly) being pursued by the city.
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